I grew up with snakes. A Burmese Python named, appropriately enough, “Julius Squeezer.” Lots of harmless king snakes and gopher snakes and more.
You see, my dad (a biology teacher) was friends with a herpetologist, and the two of them would often conduct hands-on educational seminars around the area to help people understand that snakes are our friends, not something to be feared nor chopped up with a garden shovel. My dad and his friend also helped out the local sheriff by being part of what I called “The Snake Patrol”—comprised of environmentalist folks who’d go out to a house where some person—who had moments ago called 911 or whatever screaming incoherenantly about a deadly snake—was about ready to take drastic, lethal action against a harmless baby king snake or whatnot. My dad would go out there, put the snake in a pillowcase, and release it into the wild.
One time, alas, it was too late. The frantic woman, who had spotted what she KNEW was a deadly snake outside by her trash cans, could hold off no longer. About ten minutes before my dad arrived, she had repeatedly bisected the critter. The purely rubber critter I might add. Methinks that snake wasn’t posing all that much of a threat, eh?
As part of all these efforts, my dad would sometimes temporarily bring snakes to our home, where I got to hold them and learn that they weren’t slimy or (generally) deadly or even venemous.
Plus snakes eat things like wild rats, which are generally NOT our friends when they’re carrying diseases into our homes.
Anyway, this brings us to why movies like Snakes on a Plane and those films about deadly spiders or any other fearful-animal-de-jour make me sad. They undoubtedly result in not only a rise of fear but also an increased level of senseless animal killings. In a broader sense, they contribute to a dystopian view of nature as something to be feared, coralled, and conquered.
You might think I’m overreacting, or you might argue that people are smart enough to know the difference between Hollywood and real life. I, regrettably, beg to differ. As a human race, we haven’t shown a very good ability to either assess comparative risks (say, the likelihood of a plane incident vs. the chances of dying in an auto accident) or live in harmony with nature.
True, at the core, it’s pretty much just one of a zillion stupid movies that people flock to see. And I suppose there’s something to be said for lame escapist entertainment. I just wish it didn’t use nature as a scapegoat.